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25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier (Read 344039 times)
lazb
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #450 - 04/08/18 at 19:48:05
 
Steve, Exciting, and expensive, stuff!!  What happens to the sound if you substitute the 25th anni. modified CSP3 for the ZTPRE rather than adding it to the chain which includes the ZTPRE?
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #451 - 04/09/18 at 04:58:01
 

Tonight I'm at it again!  16 straight hours of listening yesterday and I hated to quit. Tonight it's even better because I decided to change from the studio reference to the silver reference cables and the difference was not subtle. The sound is so tangible that it's alarming... for lack of a better word! The thought tonight was - can it get too real? I didn't used to think so, but this is so real it takes you well outside your comfort zone.

The preamp does the same thing it's always done which is compliment the Zen. In my system, the ZTPRE really only serves to send the signal into the listening room to a ZBIT located next to the amplifier - the idea to get the signal there without any losses. The ZTPRE you really can't hear any effect on tonal balance or transparency... it's like a ghost component in that way. So when I put the DAC next to the CSP3 and bypass the ZTPRE and ZBIT I really don't hear a change once I adjust the controls on the CSP3 to sound the same as what I had.

It has the magical ability to keep the amp from clipping while at the same time making it louder. The tone that I'm hearing now is just ear candy. Literally it's like when you decide to eat the whole bag of snacks, you can't stop until it's gone.

My advise with this anniversary stuff is that you might want to wait until retirement to try it out otherwise using it might get you retired early. I had plenty to do this weekend, but I feel like nothing was more important than the sound I've been hearing so it's all good. Again, you never thought what you are hearing was possible, it's bending your reality about as far as your sanity will allow it, and you don't know for sure if it will ever sound this good again so you have no option but to listen.  

And listen we will : )

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lazb
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #452 - 04/09/18 at 14:39:19
 
Great!, Steve. it seems a shame to be forced to listen alone. There are those who are anxiously waiting to be able to join in the fun and pleasure!!  If you get my drift  ;) Grin
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #453 - 04/10/18 at 00:21:33
 
Steve, sorry if I missed this somewhere, but can the same mod be applied to the ZTPRE as you did with the CSP3?
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #454 - 04/14/18 at 18:06:50
 
Steve, have you tried the UFO25 or UFO325 with the S3HOXRS speakers?
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maddog07
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #455 - 04/16/18 at 22:52:17
 
did I miss it somewhere, or has the approximate price point of the 25th Anniversary Zen been mentioned somewhere?
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #456 - 04/16/18 at 23:21:13
 
Nothing official has been handed down - only estimates and assumptions have been tossed around here. May still be a bit premature for Steve to commit as technically the amp is still in development.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #457 - 04/17/18 at 00:53:25
 
I remember reading a Steve comment about the Zen at the Torii price.  that's why I got the impression it would be well over $3K but it's all speculation at this point.
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lazb
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #458 - 04/17/18 at 00:55:26
 
Yes, all speculation at this point.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #459 - 04/19/18 at 02:00:42
 

The estimated price is currently $2800.00 subject to change.

Soon I will have a few different hardwood base designs to play with for the Anniversary amp and once I've chosen one I can take the photographs so we can all see what the final amp will look like and start construction of the web page for it.  

: )

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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #460 - 04/19/18 at 02:04:57
 
That's great news Steve! I know there's more than "a few" eager to know the final details and possibly place an order.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #461 - 04/19/18 at 02:24:03
 
Steve,  that's really good news.  Best of luck with the different bases.  I think this is going to be a "no brainer" for folks with high sensitivity speakers.  Yowsa!

HK
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #462 - 04/19/18 at 02:27:41
 

Tonight I'm A/B testing the SE84UFO25 Anniversary amp against a 25 watt OTL amp that I built!  It's a $20K tube amplifier with anywhere from 20 to 50 watts depending on the speaker and bias settings with 0.03% THD and an output impedance of .5 ohms... meaning death grip on the woofers.



The OTL is an exhilarating amp to listen to because of its combination of power and transparency... a true reference amplifier with only two output tubes per channel!  Gotta love those low impedance 6C33C triodes!  They were used in Russian ICBMs so rugged is an understatement!

I have to say that SE84UFO25 is holding it's own handsomely despite being only 1/10th the power it is hard to notice any difference in size, weight, scale or volume at my normal listening levels. The OTL is male with great absoluteness. The UFO25 is female with surreal magic spells that cast themselves upon you.

It's hard as hell to say which is actually better.  One has no output transformers but uses feedback, the other has no feedback but uses output transformers. I actually think the bigger difference is the even order vs. odd order harmonics each amp has.  Some will prefer one some will prefer the other some will enjoy both. The point is that after 25 years we've taken a Zen Triode Amplifier to this level and it's for real!  

Can't wait to start shipping these baby's and start hearing everyones reports!

Steve



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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #463 - 04/19/18 at 07:21:01
 
So hear I find myself once again at 1:10 in the morning with no chance in hell of being able to stop listening right away....  it's just so good.  Tonight as you know I am listening to my OTL amplifier... still, and since I could I have been pressing the volume a little bit here and there and have come to the conclusion that the DNA2 speakers are or should be my 25th anniversary speaker, because it is equally as elevated as the amplifier.  I am convinced that these speakers are the best I've ever heard in any of my rooms over the years.  When you pair these with the SE84UFO25 haunting things happen.  When you pair them with bigger power you find yourself saying "holy crap!" an awful lot...

In all honestly I never thought I would ever hear music sound this good in my lifetime and certainly never from my own stereo : )

The beauty of this is it can be replicated.  

-Steve
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Lonely Raven
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #464 - 04/19/18 at 21:34:39
 

Wow, that's exciting news!

Now I want to try a pair!

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lazb
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #465 - 04/19/18 at 21:53:10
 
just so you know, the line forms behind me!
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #466 - 04/20/18 at 05:40:38
 
lol..
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #467 - 04/23/18 at 04:37:24
 
ANNIVERSARY AMP UPDATE:

I'm in the home stretch now, all the big things are done. I've been logging the hours on the production sample and it should be nearing a full burn-in by now. So now is the time to start some A/B comparisons with the prototype. The differences between the two amps are as follows: thickness of chassis, tube sockets, attenuators, and some of the bypass caps.  In general the production sample is using better parts... well, more expensive parts. If they are better it remains to be seen.

In the first comparison I found the prototype to be better.  Granted it has more hours on it, but I was still not expecting it. The Attenuators I am trying in the production sample do not have the same taper and I am really picky about the taper... it's almost everything. Also the resistors are carbon film which I thought I might like, but I may not. So, the taper, some of the bypass caps, the resistors in the attenuator, and the burn-in are the suspects ... now it just a matter of finding which one.  

I suspect the attenuators so I will likely give it a few more days and then change back to the original Decware attenuators used in the prototype. If by chance that by itself was the culprit I'll hear it in the first minute and then I'll know we're done and we can start production. If it doesn't fix what I'm hearing then we'll explore the rest as it continues to burn in.

I'll say this, after spending some time with big power last week (the OTL amp) and then switching back to these, I am stunned at how well they hold their own.  With these speakers anyway, there is no way you would know you were listening to a two watt amp.  

Also I forgot to mention that during the last month or so I've had a nagging whisper in the back of my mind to literally move one wire in the amp, and have been ignoring it because doing so "should" make it sound worse...  

Well once again it becomes apparent that even the audio Gods after listening to it for months had a tweak of their own, and holy crap it wasn't a small one. Yes, I had to try it, and the performance of the driver stage has almost doubled. This came as a complete fascination since the power supply ripple should have gone up but instead went down, and the dynamics should have gotten soggier and instead got tighter. I admit this experience toasted my head pretty good, and may have thrown me off just enough to be over critical of the newer of the two amps...  But we've covered that, the news here is that another 15% improvement in sound quality. I suspect this is going to make it sound very close to the monos if not almost indistinguishable.

This is why you can't rush product development. Around here we don't model circuits on Spice programs, but rather channel a higher intelligence.

Happy Listening!

Steve



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Steve Deckert
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #468 - 04/27/18 at 02:20:17
 

Still waiting for the "change" with the production sample, and despite a few more days and another 70 hours, no change.  I'm convinced it's the attenuators, so this weekend I will remove and replace them with the Decware Attenuators. I guess I've grown spoiled over the years with our attenuator.  

In our attenuator we use ultra low-noise thin-film nichrome surface-mount resistors rated nearly 10 times the resolution as 1% metal film leaded resistors used in most attenuators. These resistors are so good by comparison that you can stack dozens of them in series and hear no difference between the series string and the single resistor.  Up until these resistors became available the only type of attenuator worth using was a Ladder type which has only one resistor in the signal path at any one time.

Since we could no longer hear the difference between the ladder and series attenuator using these resistors some realized (and we recognized) it was possible to take it even one step further by almost eliminating all the circuit board traces. This was done by positioning 20 of these Nichrome SM Resistors in a circle as small as possible so that the end-caps of each resistor touched each other. The circle is soldered together and the gold wiper is then swept across gold pads at the end-caps of the resistors. This puts the wiper within a few thousandths of an inch away from the end caps of the resistors. It is the simplest most pure attenuator design God will allow. And it sounds like nothing is there, which is what you want.

Neither DACT or GoldPoint or anyone else do it this way, and it's because it doesn't LOOK impressive and is fragile. Well you know me, I don't give a blank about any of that IF it sounds better, and it does.

I have our attenuators custom made for me in Japan. Of course there are dozens of Chinese clones on ebay.com. My guess is that if you got three of the fakes to ensure at least one of them worked properly, even without the premium resistors it would probably still sound respectable.

Shown below is one of our attenuators I've disassembled so you can see the simplicity (zen) of it's design.




In the "real world" where most of our amplifiers live I usually recommend the standard carbon volume pot over the attenuators. The reason for this is that the amps are so transparent the warmth of the carbon pot is kind to mid-fi digital. The SE84UFO25 is not a real world amplifier. In fact it is an out of this world amplifier that is magnifying the differences in attenuators to the point of ruining the entire amplifier.

Anyway, I'll report the results once these attenuators are installed in the production sample.

Steve


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Lonely Raven
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #469 - 04/27/18 at 17:15:12
 

I'm guessing my Mystery amp isn't using this type of attenuator? Since my sources are so high quality and I'm trying to get closer to the music, would replacing my attenuator in the Mystery Amp with one of these help get me closer?

I do like the click pot you put on my little Zen, quite a bit. So it's been in the back of my mind to have a better pot installed in my Mystery.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #470 - 04/27/18 at 17:22:53
 

LR - this is the only attenuator we have used since about 2005 so if you your amp has an attenuator, it is this.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #471 - 04/27/18 at 18:59:12
 
Ahh, OK, I misunderstood your last section above. I thought you were saying that you use the carbon film pots instead of these nice ones, with the exception of an exceptional amp like the SE84UFO25.

I'm still hoping you can coax out some more detail from the Mystery Amp like you have with the 25th. I know you said you can't do the same mod, but I'm wondering if there is some tweaking that can be done never the less.  

Maybe if I dump my Mystery amp in your lap like I did the Zen amp, some inspiration would happen! LOL

Edit to add: the same way my gut told me there was something more left to do with the Zen amp, my gut is telling me there is something more to do with the Mystery amp. I won't say more than that so as to not influence inspiration.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #472 - 04/28/18 at 05:01:40
 

Well I removed and replaced the attenuators and can confirm that was the entire problem! The incredible sound is BACK!  

The high-end machined attenuators I hoped would work looked like a million dollars, most fitting for such a special amplifier. Sadly they turned out to be series type and used conventional leaded low-grade resistors and circuit boards as I probably mentioned earlier.

It's amazing how large the difference is. Now the production sample sounds exactly like the prototype and I mean exactly. Nothing can proceed until that type of consistency happens, because consistency is the oak tree of success.

You know you have a great design when you can exactly replicate it. Remembering back when I was just another D.I.Y. amp builder, I can say it's pretty easy to be proud of yourself when your amp project is finally completed and sounding the way you wanted it to but it is damn humbling when you try to build more just like it and they all sound different. I've always said you know you're good when you can build the same amp five times in a row with identical results. You know you're really good when you can build it 25 times in a row with each and every one sounding identical. Even then, your amps don't become great until they stay in service for 25 years without unforeseen failures which is why this 25th Anniversary amp is so dear to my heart.

I'm listening to it now.

It's ear candy. Like a sweet new chocolate that the world has never tasted. Each note momentarily hangs time so you can enjoy it's full decay.  It's like hearing music in slow motion and live at virtually the same time supporting the sense that there's a multidimensional element to it.

I've been listening to this amplifier for weeks and until this KEY of a new attenuator unlocked the lock placed on it by the old attenuator, there was absolutely no multidimensional element to the sound. This is what separates this amplifier from virtually everything I've ever heard. See how fragile this is? And Lon is right, your room is not going to stop this element from dominating your listening experience.

Time to do some levitation...  and marvel at how much information is actually captured in a good recording. Not even the engineers had any idea in many cases.

Listening to the same garden of music during this development process helps to hear what changes when it changes.  Between last night with the the old attenuators and tonight with the new, the sound can not be contained in the listening room.  It comes out into the surrounding space with a seductive quality that was never there.  It's so much better it's just ridiculous.

To maintain context, this is an amplifier with 1 capacitor and two resistors in the signal path. The inferior sounding attenuator just added between 1 and 24 more low quality resistors to the signal path and the additional solder nodes was equally devastating. Perform the same test in a solid-state receiver where each of 8 op-amps have 27 transistors and heavy feedback loops with large value electrolytic coupling capacitors between the many stages and you will hear no difference between the two attenuators.  This should give those who have never heard such a good tube amp a basic scale of just how much better sounding it really is.

Steve

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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #473 - 04/28/18 at 05:33:36
 

Still listening...

It is just stunning how deep the music is. See, after being away from it only for a short time, I'm just blown away by its magic. This amp is so good you can listen to the same recordings over and over and not realize that you're listening to the same recordings. Literally. I'm serious.  

Boy, I'm already starting to have visions of DECFEST2018... speaking of which, and I shit you not, I saw a UFO today in a dream during my 5:00 o'clock nap! It was a rounded-rectangle shape that I have never seen before, clear as a bell too... I walked around the corner and there is was so obvious all you could do is just say "holy-shit" and then turn around and walk the other way hoping it didn't see you.

Hehe, you can absolutely be certain the UFO video series of Zen-Amp abductions are not over yet... that was a sign.


BTW, with respect to high-end digital files from Blue Cost Music, I found it easy to hear a difference between DSD 11.2MHz and 5.2MHz with this amp virtually every time I try it... something to ponder.


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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #474 - 04/28/18 at 05:37:50
 

Yea, LR, I know it too, as evidence by what Jeff has already accomplished with his...  it will be a fun journey and I look forward to it. I already know what it's going to sound like, because I can hear it in my head as I write this. The word that comes to mind now as I listen to that... is... "exhilarating"... hard to turn off.

Steve


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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #475 - 04/28/18 at 06:31:25
 

So back to tonight...  I was listening to a song that was overwhelmingly good sounding in every category and started a post about it. Then I deleted it thinking people are tired of hearing me blab on about it.  The song was "Liberty" by Anette Askvik. Moving on, I went back to researching the latest and greatest in signal path resistors.  Something that is on my mind as I listen tonight. (I updated those also when I changed the attenuators). The next thing I know there is this incredible music that once again makes me go to the listening chair and I was just dumbstruck by how good it sounded. It was insane.

So when it was over I came back and looked to see what it was... the same song: Liberty by Anette Askvik. I was stunned that it was the same song because what are the odds of that song coming up again on random play in less than an hour I thought!  Of course it was the same track, only 5:45 in length that was so good I thought a lot more time had passed, and thought I was listening to a different song. I attribute this to the mind frantically trying to wire new networks to process the super high resolution it's never heard before.

Nevertheless, this track on this amplifier in my room and on these speakers is just sick. The sound quality aspect of it is hard to believe.

Don't worry, it's not a magic track... the very next track that is playing now is equally stunning, and I mean just stunning!  "Chompy's Paradise" by Babbadnotgood  

I can already see where this will end up as it has many times in the past, every song that plays from now until I stop, will be too good to be believed. This I think is because it's not the tracks, it's the music that the amplifier is letting express itself without the typical western science straight-jacket.

Yup, now it's "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" by Hanne Boel, and it sounds and feels completely real to the point of being almost awkward as it bends the brains ability to deal with the illusion.  

It leaves me humbled as a secret digital hater for so many years how I blamed most of the sound I didn't like on the format or the recording, usually both, instead of the amplifier, but now I'm hearing the sound I wanted from recordings and formats that I didn't think were capable of it, and rather than doing it by clever filtering as is the mid-fi way to stomach it, I'm doing it by extreme resolution... it's just so ironic that it's going to take this tired head about a year to fully absorb the reality of it.  

Equally disturbing with this amplifier is that the gaps that have always existed between digital and LP and the MASTER TAPE have always been large.  They are getting uncomfortably close together now, and it's hard to accept what my ears are telling me.  Very hard.  



Happy listening!

Steve

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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #476 - 04/28/18 at 13:00:17
 
I like your listening tips. For once I know these artists from earlier. Both Askvik and Boel are norwegian. An additional tip would be Radja Toneff with the album Fairytales, a very popular jazz album around here
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #477 - 04/28/18 at 14:27:38
 
Good news (Reply #474), for the ZMA!

If anyone is interested and owns a Zen Mystery Amplifier, we have been talking about this mod, for over a couple months:
https://www.decware.com/cgi-bin/yabb22/YaBB.pl?num=1519064780

But, first things first. I look forward to the launch of the benchmark Anniversary 25th Triode.

Then, Steve, for us ZMA push/pull junkies...Steve wrote (#474):
"it will be a fun journey and I look forward to it. I already know what it's going to sound like, because I can hear it in my head as I write this."

Cool. Can I live without it (the mod)? Yes, I'm 3 months into my 5th year with my ZMA of bliss. However, why not! Other than the shipping Nazi's..... .
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #478 - 04/30/18 at 02:19:24
 
stone_of_tone said: "into my 5th year with my ZMA"

Already five years of the Mystery amp! If asked I would have said it was 7 or 8 months ago that we were reading the forum page introducing this new model.  It does not seem possible that much time has got away.  
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #479 - 04/30/18 at 04:37:50
 

Amen.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #480 - 04/30/18 at 04:59:34
 

Ordered all the custom parts for about 30 UFO25's this weekend! That should get the ball rolling.

Also completed the CNC work on the tube caddy this evening...



Just threw in some random tubes to check the fit. This case will be included with each amp.

I should be able to start contacting people on the list by no later than Memorial day!

Literally the only thing left is the photographs and to lock in the introductory price on the web site - both to be determined once I get the hardwood bases and the cost of those bases.

Steve

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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #481 - 04/30/18 at 05:52:21
 
Looks amazing! I really enjoy the love for all the details Steve. Smiley
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #482 - 04/30/18 at 08:24:23
 
Wow, very cool case! This amp is really going to be something!
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #483 - 05/01/18 at 17:22:44
 
Looks like there will be a Decware "tube straightener" in that box.
Is that correct?
If yes I will hold off buying one and wait for the SE84-UFO25 I plan to purchase.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #484 - 05/03/18 at 00:25:01
 

Any chance of dual outputs on the se84-25? Add-on option?
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #485 - 05/03/18 at 05:10:20
 

Quote:
Any chance of dual outputs on the se84-25? Add-on option?


Dual output would just be a matter of connecting two speakers to each binding post.  If you mean dual inputs, there is zero chance of that.  The work-around is a ZSB switch box outfitted with the better jacks.

Steve
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #486 - 05/03/18 at 05:34:38
 
I am pleased to announce that the SE84UFO25 bases have been here for well over a week!   Smiley

I have chosen Peruvian Walnut for the Anniversary amps standard base. This is an exotic wood for an exotic amp. This wood is to standard walnut what the anniversary amp is to the standard zen amps. This weekend I'll try to get some photos.  

Here is what the wood and natural finish look like:



So now we're really close. To expedite things I have estimated the labor cost to build when I came up with the target price of $2800.00 so the final step is to have Dennis build serial 001 to be sold and make sure my estimate wasn't way off. I hope to have him start the build next week. This means we are still on track for contacting people on the list by May 30th.

Pretty exciting stuff! Listening to the amp just brings me joy!

Also Bob's starting the build on the DNA2 speakers to make sure we can replicate it. Normally that wouldn't be a real concern, as you build it the same way with the same tolerances and parts and it sounds the same. These particular speakers sound so good I'm going to have to hear at least 3 pair between me and Bob to believe it's actually happening - if you know what I mean.

So that's where we at, sailing down wind at about 5 knots in clear weather with land in sight!

Happy listening!

Steve


NOTE:  Shortly thereafter (Days) I changed the wood to African Padauk which you will see in later photos.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #487 - 05/03/18 at 06:39:02
 

Sadly I'm still listening to this amplifier despite being well after midnight...   it's been a detox process. The more you listen to it, the better you feel : )

Anyway, I was going to make the comment about the two voltage regulator tubes on the rear of the amplifier.

These two OA3/VR75 regulator tubes supply the two output tubes with ultra-filtered high voltage (like a DC battery) and are perfectly sinked to the current meters on each channel. By that I mean when you turn the amp up as loud as it can go without distortion, that point is indicated by the sudden movement of the otherwise steady meter readings. At the point of clipping, the meters start to dance. At that exact same moment the OA3 tubes begin to flicker and in the same linear proportion to the meters. This makes it possible to see from clear across the room if the amp is nearing clipping, or is clipping or is not clipping whatsoever.

This is one of my favorite things about this amp because of it's ability to throw out dynamics and weight like something 20 times it's size at times, you find yourself always wondering if it clipped. You wonder because the sound was louder than should be possible with 2 watts, and you didn't hear any distortion. Well now you know... and just tonight I notched the volume for each channel up about 3 clicks and the music exploded out of the speakers with a volume and density that I was certain simply had to cause the amp the clip, but this time I was sitting there looking at the amp when it happened, and the glow inside those rear OA3 tubes didn't even flinch. That means 1000% there was ZERO clipping.  I find myself looking at these tubes all the time from my listening chair, just as Lon mentioned he did with his monos.

It will be a great help during demos as well, because you typically demo the amp near it's power limit and during the demo there are several times when you wonder if it clipped. With this you know if it did or didn't if if it did, you know exactly how much. This arms you with the ability to tell the difference between distortions in the recording and distortions in the amplifier. (possibly one of the most enlightening things that could ever happen to an audiophile)

As the resolution of an amplifier increases, you hear ten-fold the distortions in the recordings and the natural tendency is to blame the amplifier or in some cases speakers.

So to have a low-power amp that gives you a real-time visual distortion display for each channel is kind of the ultimate because you can see when it's getting ready to clip before it actually does so if a super compressed modern day junk recording blows into your stream you can adjust the amp before any actual clipping is ever heard - again a nice tool when showing your friends what 2 watts can really do.

Steve
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #488 - 05/03/18 at 13:58:50
 
This "visualizing the distortion" thing is really cool. Unfortunately I find that in my system I like the bottle-shaped OB3 tube best. . . and there's less "visible" area on these and it's not as easy to tell distortion. But my experience with the OA3 has let me know where the power boundaries are with the HR-1s and I never need to go into distortion land to get the output that I need.

That said I've ordered a pair of short, straight OB3s and I think these will allow me to see flashing if it occurs, and I hope they sound as great as the Sylvania bottle-type I'm using.


I love the sound of the Monoblocks. With the ZTPRE and ZBIT and ZROCK2 I get the lower end heft and presence that the Torii Mk III brought to the system for the first time, and I get that organic "I've never been split" sound of the SET amps and that atmospheric detail and drama of the Anniversary mods. Man it's a great sounding pair of amps.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #489 - 05/08/18 at 03:53:32
 
SmileyGlass Vacuum Tube Resistors for a vacuum tube amplifier...




As those who are familiar with the Zen Triode already know, the amplifier has only two resistors and one capacitor in the signal path.

With the immense resolution of the new Anniversary model I have been exploring the sound of a number of boutique resistors to see how much the audible differences are between them. This I have done several times in the past throughout the lifecycle of the Zen Triode amplifiers and each time have chosen the very best ones that were at that point of diminishing returns price wise. I remember the differences or gaps between them and suspect a larger gap now so it will be interesting to see what prevails.  

As you know these four resistors (two per channel) are the last things to explore now that we've resolved the attenuator issue.  

Tonight I am listening to the resistors shown in the amp pictured above. These seem nearly impossible to get in any quantity unless you want to have them made for you, nevertheless they are my current favorites. The average price is $72.00 for a single 3/4 watt resistor, and that's not with the audio-fool multiplier as you can only imagine what certain audiophile companies would try to get for one!

Quote:
DESCRIPTION: For the highest degree of reliability, stability and uniformity of construction, Vishay Angstrohm hermetically-sealed metal film resistors are unquestionably the first choice. The true glass-to-metal hermetic enclosure seals the resistor element in an inert gas atmosphere and protects it from virtually all adverse environmental influences. The glass enclosure will withstand in excess of 3000 psi external pressure without leakage. The reliability and stability of Vishay Angstrohm hermetically-sealed resistors have been established by their use in nearly every military, missile, aerospace and oceanography program having the most demanding applications and the most hostile environments.


The part I love, is that this resistor has no coating on it, and while they say the best insulator is air, I'd bet money an inert gas is even better. This is how you would design a true cost-no-object audiophile resistor with absolute neutrality... at least it's how I would do it. Sadly this is almost what you have to go through to get a resistor as good as the SMR's used in the attenuator. Keep in mind however that if you use the ultra low-noise high-precision SMR on a classic circuit board, the board traces become the resistor leads and undue the most of the sonic glory of the naked SMR making this a far better solution.  

Anyway, never a wasted moment around here... we'll keep you updated in these final weeks!

Steve




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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #490 - 05/08/18 at 05:21:44
 

Well, just had a holy crap moment during the intro to After Midnight by Hanne Boel Outtakes album... honestly wasn't expecting that one!  These resistors are better than I knew.  You won't be hearing from me for the rest of the night as I'll be preoccupied.

-Steve Smiley
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #491 - 05/08/18 at 05:44:21
 

I know this much... you're going to have to have a license to listen to this amplifier.  We can't have newbies to out of body experiences bouncing off the walls and getting hurt.  Holy Crap!

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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #492 - 05/08/18 at 14:18:55
 
Quote:
Yea, LR, I know it too, as evidence by what Jeff has already accomplished with his...  it will be a fun journey and I look forward to it. I already know what it's going to sound like, because I can hear it in my head as I write this. The word that comes to mind now as I listen to that... is... "exhilarating"... hard to turn off.

Steve


I know you're busy with 25th Anniversary stuff, but I'm not listening to my ZMA since I've had my Pre-Prototype Zen in place since December. I can drop it off anytime if you want to tinker with it.

Quote:
DESCRIPTION: For the highest degree of reliability, stability and uniformity of construction, Vishay Angstrohm hermetically-sealed metal film resistors are unquestionably the first choice. The true glass-to-metal hermetic enclosure seals the resistor element in an inert gas atmosphere and protects it from virtually all adverse environmental influences. The glass enclosure will withstand in excess of 3000 psi external pressure without leakage. The reliability and stability of Vishay Angstrohm hermetically-sealed resistors have been established by their use in nearly every military, missile, aerospace and oceanography program having the most demanding applications and the most hostile environments.


That sounds seriously amazing! I may have to pick up some for my little Zen! Would it be worth it in the ZMA as well? Or are there too many components in the path, comparatively?
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #493 - 05/08/18 at 14:29:49
 
I like it LR!  Push the ZMA agenda ~ has my vote!   Smiley


Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #477 - 04/28/18 at 14:27:38    

Good news (Reply #474), for the ZMA!

If anyone is interested and owns a Zen Mystery Amplifier, we have been talking about this mod, for over a couple months:
https://www.decware.com/cgi-bin/yabb22/YaBB.pl?num=1519064780

But, first things first. I look forward to the launch of the benchmark Anniversary 25th Triode.

Then, Steve, for us ZMA push/pull junkies...Steve wrote (#474):
"it will be a fun journey and I look forward to it. I already know what it's going to sound like, because I can hear it in my head as I write this."

Cool. Can I live without it (the mod)? Yes, I'm 3 months into my 5th year with my ZMA of bliss. However, why not! Other than the shipping Nazi's..... .



However, running my Gold Lion Cryogenic KT88 Quad, from Ron @ Cryoset...my bliss meter is even higher now/ZMA!

Of course, I will have the mod done. Why live without it...as I said above. Bringing the ZMA even closer to perfection....... .

Sorry Steve, not out to hijack the Thread. I am just so enthusiastic about this great Amp/ZMA. I look forward to when you get to it. I know it will be worth the wait.

It will fit my budget better too; 6 to 9 months from now~fully developed for the ZMA.....as only your thoroughness will do. As evidenced by the development of the 25th.
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #494 - 05/08/18 at 15:30:22
 
Quote:
That sounds seriously amazing! I may have to pick up some for my little Zen! Would it be worth it in the ZMA as well? Or are there too many components in the path, comparatively?


LR, I was wondering the same thing when I read Steve's post last night.  Looks like there are a couple 1/2 Watt resistors coming off pins 2 ad 7 (Grid) of the input tubes and a couple 2 Watt resistors coming off pins 3 and 8 (Cathode).  I assume the two 1/2W resistors would be the ones to target.  
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #495 - 05/08/18 at 15:51:11
 
These seem nearly impossible to get in any quantity unless you want to have them made for you..........

.....this lends to an alternative to those guys....that Steve might decide on when doing the power cap/bypass enhancement.

I look forward to the journey (Steve's posts/replies).
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #496 - 05/08/18 at 17:02:22
 
Quote:
LR, I was wondering the same thing when I read Steve's post last night.  Looks like there are a couple 1/2 Watt resistors coming off pins 2 ad 7 (Grid) of the input tubes and a couple 2 Watt resistors coming off pins 3 and 8 (Cathode).  I assume the two 1/2W resistors would be the ones to target.



Yes, the grid is the input.

Since the DirectStream DAC has it's own volume that doesn't drop bits, I'd be tempted to bypass the attenuator pot and try these resistors on the ZMA input tubes. Sounds like an expensive experiment...so I'll leave it to you, Jeff.    ;D
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #497 - 05/09/18 at 03:36:56
 
Haha!  Well, you know if I can get my hand on them, Im going to do it.  

Not a bad idea about bypassing the attenuator altogether.  Is the DS DAC your only source?  
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #498 - 05/09/18 at 06:10:29
 
Quote:
Not a bad idea about bypassing the attenuator altogether.  Is the DS DAC your only source?


I have the DS and the TEAC NT-503
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Re: 25th Anniversary Zen Triode Amplifier
Reply #499 - 05/09/18 at 06:22:02
 
Roger that.  Well, for signal purity, the best attenuator is no attenuator.  

I reached out to Vishay about these resistors and their availability.  Ill let you know what I hear.  If I can get them, Ill have then installed.  Why not?  Ive already come this far, why let a few resistors get in my way of even greater sonic reward - even $72 a piece resistors!   Shocked   Regardless, they are pretty bitchin' in looks and concept.  

At the end of the day, unless one auditioned my ZMA2, they would not appreciate the money I have sunk into it ($2700 money well spent!) above and beyond the purchase price.  So, even if I ever wanted to sell it, which I wouldn't, getting my ROI is unlikely - outside of someone witnessing its magic.
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